How to get over someone: 17 steps to letting go for good

Have you had your heart broken recently?

What can I say, it sucks.

Heartbreak is one of the most painful human experiences we all have to endure. But despite its common occurrence, the pain of losing someone you love still, and always will sting.

There’s only one thing to do:

Move on, you must.

But how exactly do you heal? In this guide, we’ll guide you through navigating your heartbreak and how to get over someone for good.

Why losing someone you love hurts so much

how to move on

Why is it so painful when you get your heart broken?

The pain is so intense, it goes beyond emotional.

Mark Manson, bestselling author The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck explains:

“Relationships form the basis of meaning in our lives. And not just your interpersonal relationships, but even the relationships you have with your job or your identity or your possessions.

“Therefore, when you lose a relationship, especially one that was so important and central to your everyday life, you lose that associated meaning. And to lose meaning is to lose a part of yourself.”

When you lose it, you lose all of the things attached to it as well.

But there’s actually some science behind it.

When we go through a breakup, especially an unexpected one, our bodies register it as an emergency. This means that our “fight-or-flight” system is triggered, which can cause physical symptoms.

According to clinical psychologist Dr. Kristin Bianchi:

“Our muscles tense, we lose our appetite, we may experience [gastrointestinal] disruption, and we’re likely to have trouble falling asleep. Being in this physically hyper-vigilant state over a period of time can lead to headaches, stomachaches, and muscle soreness.”

As for all of the emotional and mental turmoil, Dr. Bianchi explains:

“In the immediate aftermath of a breakup, we’re going to experience these abrupt chemical changes almost as we would a type of withdrawal — complete with ‘cravings’ to be reunited with our exes.”

17 ways to get over someone for good

Perhaps the most challenging part of moving on is the uncertainty whether or not you can actually get over your ex for good.

For some people, the process may even take years. If you find yourself having a hard time and seeing no progress in your moving on process, we’ve come up with 17 ways to make sure you succeed.

Here are 17 things that can help you move on from your ex for good.

1. Allow yourself to feel the hurt.

how to get over someone

Manson adds:

“The hard pill to swallow here is this: part of you is now dead and gone. It’s time to accept that and start rebuilding your life so you can move on.”

Many people make the mistake of suppressing their emotions when they’re feeling pain.

But the first step in fixing the problem is to accept that it’s normal for you to hurt. Rather than suppress your emotions, take this opportunity as a part of a healing process.

Cry if you have to. Wallow in your pain when it feels too much. Give yourself a chance to grieve.

You’ll feel ready to move on one day. But while the wound still stings, feel the pain.

2. But don’t let the breakup consume you

how to get over someone

Yes, you need to grieve. But don’t let your heartbreak consume everything else in your life.

Humans have an amazing capacity to compartmentalize. Sure, you’ve lost a big part of yourself, but you still have a life.

This is not denial – it’s just being realistic.

Barton Goldsmith, author and psychotherapist, says:

“Compartmentalization is not about being in denial; it’s about putting things where they belong and not letting them get in the way of the rest of your life.

“You can’t just ignore your issues and expect them to go away, but obsessing on them won’t help either.”

So don’t neglect your work. Continue your studies. Spend time with your family.

A breakup might be the end of a relationship. But it isn’t the end of your whole world.

3. Yes, you need to give it time.

how to get over someone

As cliche as it sounds, time does heal.

It won’t feel like it right now. In fact, time seems to be going slow. But as days go by, the pain will ease.

According to research published in The Journal of Positive Psychology, it takes approximately 11 weeks to feel better after a relationship has ended.

But every relationship is unique, with its own set of memories and shared experiences. So don’t give yourself a timeline. Instead, just give yourself all the time you need.

4. Do something

how to get over someone

Quite broad, right?

But according to research published in the Journal of Neuroscience, the secret to feeling better after a breakup is actually as simple as that:

Do something—anything that you think might help.

It will be different for everyone, but you know yourself best.

Think of the best ways you think you can feel better after going through such intense pain, no matter how silly or strange or wrong it might appear to other people.

If you believe it will help, it probably will.

According to psychology professor and the study’s co-author Tor Wager:

“Beliefs and expectations matter, in the sense that they influence our brain function and physiology as well as our feelings and decisions. It might open your mind to noticing more positive aspects of your experience and give you a more optimistic outlook.”

5. Don’t have contact with your ex

how to get over someone

Neuroscience explains why breakups hurt so badly—as if we’re going through withdrawal.

Because guess what?

You literally are feeling the effects of withdrawal.

When you’re in love, oxytocin or the “love hormone” is running through your body. When you’ve broken up, your body needs to adjust to the sudden lack of oxytocin.

And you need to let it.

According to Hollywood therapist and author Dr. Mike Dow, you need to go “love sober” for at least 30 days.

That means zero contact—no calls, no texts, even no social media.

I know you might want to get your ex back, but think of it like going to rehab. If you want to get over someone for good, you really need to get them out of your system completely.

6. Take this time to reflect and reconnect to yourself.

We all feel like we’ve lost our identity after a breakup. And in a way, we have.

The question, “who am I?” tends to pop up.

Tell yourself it’s natural. In fact, it’s inevitable.

According to author Melissa Dahl, this is actually the perfect opportunity to reflect and reconnect with yourself.

She says:

“Focus on restoring your self-concept, either by doing the things you loved and lost sight of during your relationship, or by trying out brand-new hobbies.

“This is common-sense breakup advice, but typically it’s a tactic meant to distract yourself from your heartbreak.

“And it will probably do that, and that can help.

“But when you drag your brokenhearted self to the guitar lessons (or whatever) that you’ve secretly always wanted to take, you’re also rebuilding the you you just lost.

7. Reach out to loved ones.

how to get over someone

Some people tend to close themselves off when they’re hurt. However, if you do this, you’re only alienating yourself from the people who can comfort you and help you heal.

Author Preston Ni suggests:

“As you heal, the support and encouragement of loved ones are essential to your regeneration. Embrace the affection of friends, family, or a beloved pet (the power of healing from animals is well documented).”

Right now, relying on a solid support system is more crucial than ever.

8. There’s no such thing as closure.

how to get over someone

At least not in the sense that you have to ask it from the other person.

Modern dating culture is caught up with the idea of “closure.”

We are told that we need to look for answers from our ex-partners to help us move on.

But closure is almost impossible to find from someone else. But you can surely find it from yourself.

Monique Judge of The Root explains:

“Closure is something that you will often have to create for yourself and view as a part of the process of moving on.

“Think of it as ending a chapter in a book. You have to decide that you want to be done, and then be resolute about it.”

“Figure out what it is about the ending of the situation or relationship that is lingering with you and work your way back from there. How can you resolve your own feelings about the issue? Is there work you can do on yourself to make you grow from this?”

In fact, if you’ve recently broken up with someone, then check out our recent article on what to do after a breakup. We share 11 no bullsh*t tips for moving on.

9. Be kind to yourself

how to get over someone for good

Here’s the thing:

Nothing can bring out our insecurities more than a breakup does.

Which is exactly why you should be kinder to yourself during this time.

It’s normal to take the blame in broken relationships. After all, it involves two people, and one of them is you.

But taking on unnecessary blame is simply counterproductive.

According to author, life coach, and psychologist Dr. Melanie Greenberg:

“When you feel low is the time to be kind to yourself, rather than criticize. Try to lift yourself up and think about your own positive qualities. Give yourself credit for trying to make things work, even if you didn’t ultimately succeed. Think about what you might say to a dear friend in this situation and direct these comments to yourself.”

10. Recognize the lessons you’ve learned.

how to get over someone

Eventually, you’ll be able to get some key takeaways from this breakup.

You’re going to unravel why you two didn’t work out.

According to psychology coach and happiness expert Lisa Cypers Kamen:

 “Review and reframe the lessons and opportunities that the relationship has taught.”

And perhaps the one thing you can take away from this is – relationships don’t end because two people did something wrong.

Ultimately, relationships end because they need to and because at the core of it, two people are just wrong for each other.

11. Don’t fall back to that old habit.

Maybe the old habit is your ex. Maybe it’s your habit of jumping too fast to the next relationship. Or maybe it’s your penchant for avoiding to deal with your emotions.

Or maybe, it’s good old romanticism.

I mean, don’t we all watch romcoms with people magically coming back together, major issues forgotten?

As author and relationship expert Kevin Darné puts it:

“We’ve been programmed by romance novels and Hollywood movies to view breakups as stepping stones toward happily ever after.

“Just about everyone loves a story where a couple, in the end, gets back together after having gone through some painful emotional turmoil.”

But life isn’t like the movies. Sometimes, you can’t just magically make everything right and be together.

Instead, do what’s best for you. Explore your next options. Choose something that is healthy for you.

12. Don’t even think of being intimate post-breakup

how to get over someone

What’s the worse thing you can do after a breakup?

You’ll be surprised, but a lot of people succumb to the temptation of post-breakup sex.

It’s common because there’s a lot of emotions involved during a breakup. These emotions can make you lose your judgment and may even reward you with temporary feelings of attachment to the other person.

Suffice it to say, resist it.

According to psychologist Loren Soeiro:

“Don’t succumb to the temptation of post-breakup sex. These highly charged behaviors will only prolong your feeling of being intensely emotionally connected to your ex-partner.”

13. You are not alone.

how to get over someone

Find solace in the fact that breakups and heartbreak are actually quite common.

If you’re hurt because you feel like you’ve been rejected, but remember everyone gets rejected. 

Greenberg says:

“You aren’t the only person to be rejected. Rejection is one of the most common human experiences. Sometimes people don’t let on they’ve been rejected, so you can’t always tell.”

Don’t be too hard on yourself. Even the smartest most beautiful person gets their heart broken. So there’s no need to be too hard on yourself.

14. Write

how to get over someone

Yes, something as simple as writing down your feelings can help you heal.

Studies have shown the positive effects of keeping a journal. It can help you emotionally, mentally, and even physically.

Writing down how you feel can particularly help you towards healing.

According to Roosevelt University psychology professor Steven Meyers:

“Writing out feelings and thoughts allows people to purge distress from their system, and has been shown to be a powerful intervention.

“People can become more upset when they magnify their situation by thinking something like, ‘I’m going to be alone forever. Although it can be hard to do, writing out reasons why these thoughts may or may not be true can put things in perspective.”

Writing is an excellent outlet for all those difficult emotions. It’s also a safe space for you to express yourself, where no one can judge you.

15. See a therapist

how to get over someone

You might think you don’t need professional help. But you’ll be surprised to know the number of people who see therapists to help them get over a breakup.

It’s difficult to go through the process of moving on, especially navigating your way through complicated emotional issues.

According to couples therapist Jessica Schroeder:

“Oftentimes, breakups are very painful, and it is important to process that pain. t is critical to get over your ex — not only to become emotionally healthy, but also to prevent carrying experiences forward into new relationships.

“For example, you could compare your new partner to your ex or you could unintentionally have reactions according to what happened in your relationship with them. Or, if you felt you were not good enough in your last relationship, you may have behavioral responses in your future relationships, all according to that self-narrative.”

A therapist will help you make sense of your emotions and help you deal with them in healthy and productive ways.

16. Develop a growth mindset

how to get over someone

Growth mindset is having the belief that you can learn anything you set your mind to. It’s believing that with grit and perseverance, you can overcome any obstacles you encounter.

How does this relate to breakups, necessarily?

A 2016 study conductive by Stanford University shows that the way we handle the rejection after a breakup determines how long we hold on to the pain that comes with it.

The researchers suggest that we depend on others as sources of information for ourselves. That means that rejection from someone we believe knows us well can be extremely painful.

Here’s where your fixed or growth mindset comes in.

If you have a fixed mindset, you’re likely to associate the rejection with negative parts about yourself, which means longer recovery time.

Whereas if you have growth mindset, you’ll focus on how the positive aspects of yourself—the things you can change and improve—which makes you move on faster.

17. Choose yourself.

how to get over someone

Don’t waste any more time thinking about anyone or anything other than your own.

You need to love yourself now more than ever.

Ni has a thing or two to say about being selfish after a breakup:

“It’s easy to feel sorry for oneself after separation, and in doing so neglect one’s own well-being. Some people self-blame, while others go into victimhood.

“There may be an urge to mope endlessly and wallow negatively. Some punish themselves consciously or unconsciously.”

“The more difficult the separation, the more important it is to take good care of yourself.

“Eat well and exercise. Do something to pamper yourself everyday—be it a hot bath, fragrant tea, fresh flowers, or massage at a spa. Be your own best friend. You absolutely deserve it!”

Takeaway

Reading this far, you know for sure it’s not going to be easy. And I’m not going to lie and say that the steps I’ve listed above are all black and white. At the end of the day, your instincts are your best friend. And only you can allow yourself to move on completely.

But here’s a piece of advice I could give you that has worked for me – the healthiest way to get over someone is to try to find new sources of meaning.

Rediscover xyourself. Date yourself. Do what you are passionate about. Be busy with things you enjoy. And make this about you.

You can find new sources of meaning by reconnecting with people, taking up a new hobby, or by simply allowing yourself to get through this journey.

You may feel that you’ve lost a lot of things. That you’ve made mistakes and wasted time you can’t take back.

But you are still capable of healing. And no matter what, you are still worthy of love.